25 Nov

How to Frame Mosaic Art


This gorgeous mosaic floral piece of art was created by my friend Arlene. After hours of cutting and gluing (and drinking and cursing no doubt) it hung proudly on her lower level bathroom wall. When she and her husband, Paul, decided to sell nearly everything in their home to move out West, they asked me to come help.

DIY Mosaic Art

As we prepped for the estate sale,  a few private sales were conducted and another friend quickly claimed the one-of-a-kind piece.

Tina wanted it to hang just inside her guest bathroom off of the garage. She was worried about doors slamming causing the heavy artwork to vibrate against the wall. Already, areas of grout had broken away from the frame and she didn’t want to risk ruining it entirely. So, she asked if I could reinforce the original frame.

When I got it home I realized that Arlene had mosaic’d right over the original sheet of glass abutting the frame. A quick web search revealed DIY versions of stained glass mosaics. Unfortunately, none of them called for removing the glass from the frame prior to grouting in place. To remove the glass art from the frame I had to break the grout seam – without damaging the piece or cracking the glass.

As usual, what should have been a simple project had gotten hairy.

add hangers to plywood backing

I measured and cut a 1/4″ thick piece of plywood to serve as the new backer board. Thinking ahead, I preinstalled D-ring hangers. And selected a decorative chair rail for the new frame.

Since there was a 1/4″ portion of un-mosaic’d glass hiding under the original frame I’d removed, I had to get creative with the router. I notched the back of the chair rail enough to fit the raw glass and some of the uneven grout lines.

route chair rail edges

Then I measured and mitered the corners at 45 degrees. Because each cut was specific to the side of the glass I was working on, I made sure to mark both trim pieces as I went along. This made final assembly much easier to complete.

miter & label corners

A quick dry-fit to confirm measurement accuracy and I was ready to attach the glass to the backer board.

dry fit frame

But I noticed that some of the plywood grain was visible through the mosaic glass chips. So, I put some black and white paper under the glass to see if it made a difference.

choose mosaic base color

Can you see the color differences? Straight down the center I noticed a complete change in the way the green glass looked. The white on the left seemed to wash the colored glass pieces out. But the black made them pop.

black painted plywood

So, I rolled on a coat of black paint leaving enough raw wood surface for later. When that dried, I squiggled on some epoxy to affix the glass to the wood surface.

apply epoxy

After setting the glass on the glue, I painted the frame white.

Apparently, I was in such a hurry to get upstairs for TGIT that I forgot to take a photo of the glass drying on the backer board so you’ll have to use your imagination. I let everything dry overnight before gluing the underside edges of the picture frame to that unpainted edge of the backer board. You’ll get much better adhesion by allowing direct wood to wood contact when using wood glue.

band clamp corners

A band clamp works well to tighten up and hold square project pieces in place as the glue sets. I had to raise the piece up to get the metal corner clamps positioned correctly. When it was dry, I sanded the joints, filling in with putty as needed.

spackle & paint

And then I added a metallic white glaze coat before waxing for the final finish.

frame mosaic art

After we got it up on her wall, Tina added some felt bumpers under the lower frame backing. That way, if someone does slam the door, she doesn’t have to worry about any damage to the wall or Arlene’s lovely artwork.

how to reframe art

It's so quiet in here - please, say something!

%d bloggers like this: